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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola admits Manchester City need to cope with schedule better to avoid another FA Cup stumble

Pep Guardiola feels the fixture schedule has hampered Manchester City in the FA Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pep Guardiola admits his Manchester City team will need to handle the schedule better to avoid another FA Cup semi-final stumble.

City powered into the last four of the competition for a sixth time under Guardiola as they thrashed Burnley 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Of those previous semi-finals, City did triumph in 2019 – and go on to win the competition – but they were beaten in the other four.

City were beaten by Liverpool in last year’s FA Cup semi-finals (Adam Davy/PA)

Guardiola feels the scheduling of those games in mid-April, in close proximity to big Champions League and Premier League fixtures as they chase glory on multiple fronts, has been problematic for his side.

This year, the semi-finals will come just days after what could be a titanic Champions League quarter-final tussle at Bayern Munich and Guardiola accepts preparations could be tough.

He said: “The worst game we play is always the semi-final of FA Cup at Wembley. Never we were there.

“Our performances were really poor every time. Even the year we won, we struggled, against Brighton, not really good.

“Hopefully, one year we can play the semi-finals here in Manchester – but the last years always before or after the Champions League quarter-final we travelled.

“We were not ready, tired, and hopefully, this year we can prepare a bit better. The final of FA Cup is a dream to play and this season we are going to try.”

Guardiola’s side did successfully negotiate the schedule to win the FA Cup in 2019 (Nick Potts/PA)

City play the second leg of their tie against Bayern at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, April 19, and Guardiola would therefore prefer to have the Sunday slot for the FA Cup semi-final on the weekend of 22-23.

Yet he accepts that is not his choice to make and his team will just have to deal with what they are given.

He said: “If the draw is Saturday, we play Saturday. We have to prepare better. To play the semi-finals, you have to be ready. It’s so important.

“We’ve played naively, no good. Three-zero against Liverpool (in 2022) – I know they’re a good team but 3-0 at half-time? When we lost against Arsenal in Mikel (Arteta’s) first season (2020), it was really bad.

“Hopefully this time we can behave as who we are. I just always had the feeling that we didn’t compete, we were not there, we were not hungry enough.”

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